Writings by Cole Huffman

Free Labor

I am not handy.  I do own a chainsaw and thus my Man Card remains valid.  But I am not deft with hammer or drill, skill saw or measuring tape.  My aptitude is for working with words not wood.

However, I am the son, and son-in-law, of men who are very handy and are together engaged in an improvement project at our home as I write this.  They have knocked out a wall separating two rooms we would no longer tolerate the barrier between.  Now our living space is much more open.  All we have to do is paint when they’re finished.  They’re also rewiring and improving some lighting and vents.  These two indomitable seventy-year-olds can do it all: carpentry, electrical, drywall, plumbing, tile.  And they enjoy the work and working together.  Our kids get the rare treat of having both grandfathers together at their house.

Lynn and I get the rare treat of free labor.  The work our dads are doing for us would cost thousands of dollars if we contracted it.  We’re out only hundreds for materials.  I know they could roof our house too if they set themselves to it.  But as we want both of them around a while longer we’ll stick to conscripting inside projects on the ground.  They do have to go in and out of our attic though, an area of our house I’ll dub this week “Fahrenheit Heights.”
And yet no labor is really free, is it?  Someone pays something for everything “free.”  We’re monetarily paying for the needed materials bur our dads are paying too in quantities of time, exertion, and mattresses on the floor in kids’ rooms.  To say we appreciate all they’re doing is an understatement.  But with family you don’t have to overstate appreciation either.  Our dads are happy to do for us because they love us.
I’m thinking over lunch today about what they’re doing for us—knocking out the wall—how this parallels to the ultimate act of “free labor.”  It’s in Ephesians 2: how Jesus’ Father knocked out the “dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14) to create an open living space between God and man.  The Son paid the cost in His own flesh.  But it’s free to us as a labor of love.
I will think of this now when I’m home in that part of our house, this parallel to Ephesians 2.  I’ll see where the wall used to be and think appreciatively of our fathers and what they put themselves through to do this for us.  Our house is more open and spacious and free because of their “free labor.” 

But I’ll also think appreciatively of how our Father works and what He knows how to do, how He opened up a way to Himself in love and has freed me to enjoy a spacious grace.

Posted by Cole Huffman at 10:05 PM
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